Jarren Duran Is a Red Sox Star Worth Building Around

Extra-base hit merchant Jarren Duran has seriously turned a corner in 2024. He's given the Red Sox a star worth building a team around.

Jarren Duran #16 of the Boston Red Sox is doused with water after hitting the game winning RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning at Fenway Park.
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 24: Jarren Duran #16 of the Boston Red Sox is doused with water after hitting the game winning RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning at Fenway Park on June 24, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)

If you were to ask a baseball fan who the best outfielders in the American League were, there would be a lot of mentions of Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Kyle Tucker, and even Steven Kwan. A name that would likely be missing, if the question was asked outside of Boston’s city limits, is Jarren Duran. Yet he has statistically been one of not just the best outfielders, but most valuable players, in the game.

Duran’s lack of notoriety could come from the fact that the Red Sox only just recently entered the playoff conversation after having played .500 ball for most of the season; this was not a team in the national spotlight. It could also be the result of his rocky road to the big leagues, a heralded prospect who struggled on the field for years before finally beginning to step into his own. Whatever the reason is, it is time that the baseball world took notice.

Jarren Duran Impacts the Game In Many Ways

Just watching a Red Sox game shows how Duran impacts the game. His speed creates chaos, and creating chaos has become a mantra he has embraced this season. On multiple occasions, his athleticism has stolen the Red Sox runs. In fact, he leads all of baseball in baserunning runs created, and it goes beyond his 20 steals in 23 attempts.

In Chicago, he took off for the plate when the White Sox pitcher went to appeal that Duran had missed first, a distraction that caused an errant throw. During a game against Tampa, Duran was able to score on a double steal after the shortstop cut the throw off to try to throw him out at the plate. Against the Blue Jays, he was able to reach second base on an infield pop up that was dropped between second and third. He puts pressure on the defense constantly, and is able to create mistakes.

Ad – content continues below

Perhaps the best display of his game-changing abilities were on display in Cincinnati. In the top of the eighth inning Duran was able to tap up and score the go ahead run on a shallow pop-up to left that only a handful of big leaguers would even attempt to tag on, let along score. In the bottom of the ninth of the same game, Duran robbed what would have been the go ahead home run, leaping up and pulling the ball back in from over the center field fence.

Duran Is the Complete Package

Duran is more than just a speed merchant, though. He is in a tie for fourth in all of baseball in bWAR, ahead of the likes of Mookie Betts, Bobby Witt Jr., and Kyle Tucker. Duran has already accumulated 40 extra base hits, and leads all of baseball with 10 triples. He has driven in 37 runs and scored 55 times, a run producer in every sense of the word. 

This is not new just this year, though, as he is 31st-best OPS in all of baseball since the start of 2023 (min. 700 PA), sandwiched between the likes of Isaac Paredes and Austin Riley. Had he not gotten injured and missed time last season, he was on pace to lead the AL in doubles, thanks to his ability to drive the ball gap to gap. Duran also hustles out of the box whenever he puts the ball in play, taking extra bases left and right against lackadaisical outfielders.

Both Duran’s batting run value and fielding run value are in the top 10% of baseball. His production has not been a fluke, either, as his expected batting average and hard hit percentage are both in the top 20% of baseball, while his expected wOBA, and expected SLG are all in the top quarter of baseball. He is hitting the ball hard, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Defensive Prowess

Duran’s defense, too, has taken a major step forward this year. While he was at times a liability in the outfield, Duran has blossomed into statistically the best defender on the Red Sox. He has the top OAA on the Red Sox with 5, and is a top-three left fielder in terms of defensive run value. He has improved his jumps and tracking ability, and when paired with Ceddanne Rafaela creates a dynamic outfield defense.

It is for all of these reasons that he is, it bears repeating, fourth in all of baseball in WAR, regardless of league or position. He is one of, if not the most, well rounded players in all of baseball, a true five-tool player that impacts the game with each tool each and every night, literally; he has started every game for the Red Sox this season, and has publicly stated that it is his goal to play all 162. Despite this, he is not in the top six in the American League for All Star voting, which simply needs to change.

Ad – content continues below

Duran has been hands down one of the best and most important players for any team this season, and is a huge reason for the Red Sox recent success. While he may not have the name recognition of some of baseball’s biggest stars, he has developed into a leader and producer. If the Red Sox are able to make the playoffs, it will be in large part thanks to Duran, who should garner MVP votes come the end of the season.

Stats updated prior to games on June 27.